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Here, here Stevo- couldn’t agree more.

The too ‘Hip’ accusation is probably the most tedious criticism levelled at emerging church– it’s a type of ‘bleating’ best ignored.

Temporality has got to be nothing but a good thing. For me it’s a fantastic critique of spectacular culture- a great tool. The Oedipal bunkers (be it religion, state or multinational) don’t really do contingency. So if we see the EC performing a prophetic ‘nabi’ role (the anti-body of Christ), temporality can serve our purposes very nicely.

I like when you get angry. Didn’t you do this before at another seminar?

Mike R


You look beautiful when you're angry..

I agree too. You've come up with some nice pithy epithets that I might use in conversation if the opportunity comes.

Tim Abbott

As someone one the edge of the whole EC thing, I appreciate the faith, risk taking and particularly the open and ongoing dicussion and reflection that's taking place. I found the following post by Steve Taylor http://www.emergentkiwi.org.nz/ really helpful:

I wrote this a few weeks ago: The emerging church seems (IMHO) to be a shared conversation among people, groups and churches, about life and faith in a changing contemporary context. But it is so easy to objectify the stories and to read the conversation as monolithic, as "this is the emerging church." In doing so, the stories have been stripped of context. They are then in danger of commodification, as books, websites, podcasts etc. (A few sentences buried in a jet-lagged post about place and cross-cultural storytellinghere).

In other words; there is a conversation between various people about mission, faith, God, church in a postmodern context. This conversation has become commodified and homogenised into a universalist label "emerging church."

The result
- the focus has become the conversation rather than the work of missional communities
- like any good conversation, it has no "leader." Thus it has very few mechanism to respond to critics. (This infuriates critics even more.)
- words and labels can so easily be used to exclude and include
- we are in danger of homogenising voices and contexts and in so doing, obscure difference.

From my perspective, if it's church, it's church - whether emerging, cell, traditional, youth, new, or mega. Every people group (or even sub group) longs for an expression of church that enables them to connect their experience of life to the life of God and in an increasingly culturally diverse society the more forms the better. As you've already said, our primary response to other's expressions of church has to be humility - we are all the body of Christ.

steve collins

it's funny that people are reading this as angry! the backstory is this: i got dragged up onto the panel at the blah to be asked questions. and tyler asked his, and i had half an answer because something was occuring to me that i hadn't quite formulated yet. and later i made some notes, and gave tyler a proper answer ie the above. and he was apologising that his question wasn't meant to be hostile, and i said it's just the question that's always been asked of us so no big deal, but it did make me think of a couple of new things which is the value of questions. and the blog entry is just written up from my notes so i don't lose it.


steve good thoughts - thanks...

John Davies

Re. Point 2: '... the part of society that questions and generates culture'. This is deeply, deeply patronising. In reality EVERYBODY shapes culture. Though it's true to say that certain privileged and metropolitan people do tend to be the ones who shape (privileged and metropolitan) MEDIA culture. But that barely connects with the everyday experiences of most other people in the world.

(I posted this first on Jonny's blog so thought I ought to put it here too)


I'm always bothered by what is implied by the "you're just trying to make 'hip' church", which is that what we are doing is culturally specific and limited and that 'trad church' isn't. Traditional mainstream churches are culturally specific to the mainstream, and there isn't anything wrong with that until they claim that a mainstream expression of Christianity is the authentic default expression and that anything different is a move away from the 'norm'.

steve collins

i'd agree that everbody shapes culture in some sense - or rather, everybody is a participant in culture. but clearly there are imbalances of power and activity. the available material of culture is created and edited by some and not others.

people can take experimental or conventional approaches to the cultural material they've got. a conventional approach accepts what's available and works within its language. an experimental approach will try to step outside or subvert the previously available material.

an experimental approach to culture is not just a 'metropolitan media' thing [interesting reflex, to equate culture with media!]. when i speak of culture and culture-changers i include the product designers, politicians, educationalists, software writers etc. i'm an architect whose business is change of workplace culture - our designs express and encourage changed power relationships in the office, moving businesses out of conventional inherited structures. that's the kind of cultural change that has real effects on everyday experience - like whether you get home in time to see the kids before bedtime.

but observably, church experiments are full of experimentally-minded people. and some are indeed from the metropolitan media - perhaps trying to engage with something serious ;)

btw i always find the idea of 'the mainstream' elusive. because so much of what counts as mainstream is stuff that was fringe or avant-garde twenty or thirty years before. perhaps the mainstream is the sum of all the things that people have forgotten were once new.

steve collins

btw what really gave me pause wrt any universal ambitions we might have, was hearing people say we must engage with the poor - and remembering john drane, i think, in the mcdonaldisation of the church, saying that the churches which flourish in that context being strongly led and laying down clear rules, to give order to chaotic lives. now that ain't us!

John Davies

Churches don't have to be flourishing to be church. Churches which avoid interaction with the poor, however - I wonder if they're really church at all?


If we’re talking about poverty– what about Matthew Fox’s notion of First world ‘spiritual impoverishment’? Isn’t this conversation becoming essentialist around the definition of poverty? Poverty is ‘lack’ on every level, including culture. I particularly like what he says about the ‘imperialism’ of aid: ‘No group can liberate another group. People liberate themselves’. For me, this is reflected in a lot of alt-worships apparent apolitically. Also this broad definition of poverty removes one from the reduction and crude functionality of a lot of Christian expression. The obsession with authenticity and the ‘everyday’, the line that grannies, yoof and bus stops are only what count– somehow the ‘real’ grassroots voice.

We can have all of these things, and more.

steve collins

for me it always comes back to humility - knowing what you can and cannot do. i've been a volunteer in a hostel for the homeless - i couldn't do it, it wasn't me or what god was calling me to. but i can do other things. churches and individual christians rush into these areas as amateurs, when even the professionals struggle. do it properly or don't go there. yoou middle-class people can deal with the structural and environmental issues for which you have such responsibility.


'I'm so middle-class, my dad's gay'.

He's not really- I just wish he was.

Sarcastic Lutheran

I'm with you on the whole 'know what you're good at' thing and I often frame that in the context of vocation (die hard Lutheran, I know). Some are prophets, some are teachers, some are homeless advocates, some are cranky theologians, some are church ladies, some are EC bloggers...

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